Activities that require minimal body movement increases the risk of anxiety, claims a new study.
Low energy activities, which include watching TV, working at a computer or playing electronic games, are called sedentary behavior, and many studies have shown that such behavior is associated with physical health problems like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
However, this is the first systematic review to examine the relationship between anxiety and sedentary behavior.
Anxiety is a mental health illness that affects more than 27 million people worldwide. It can also result in physical symptoms, which amongst others includes pounding heartbeat, difficulty breathing, tense muscles, and headaches.
Lead researcher Megan Teychenne at Deakin University said since their research has shown positive associations between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms, they had another foundation for further investigating the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety symptoms.
It was found in five of the nine studies that an increase in sedentary behavior was associated with an increased risk of anxiety.
In four of the studies it was found that total sitting time was associated with increased risk of anxiety.
The evidence about screen time (TV and computer use) was less strong but one study did find that 36 percent of high school students that had more than 2 hours of screen time were more like to experience anxiety compared to those who had less than 2 hours.
The C-PAN team suggests the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety could be due to disturbances in sleep patterns, social withdrawal theory and poor metabolic health.
Social withdrawal theory proposes that prolonged sedentary behavior, such as television viewing, can lead to withdrawal from social relationships, which has been linked to increased anxiety.
The study is published in the open-access journal BMC Public Health.